I returned from a great trip to Aruba last week. I had a great stay at the Hyatt Regency Aruba (see hotel review HERE). People have been asking me a lot of questions about logistics and activities, so I decided to write this post.
First, The Aruba Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) Card
With all the requirements during the pandemic, I became adept at checking on all the entry and exit requirements for every country I traveled to and from. So how did I forget to do this before traveling to Aruba?? When I checked in for my initial flight at LaGuardia Airport, I was told I needed an Aruba Embarkation/Disembarkation card. This is a mandatory step for every passenger entering Aruba, including babies and kids, and needs to be filled out and approved. I stepped away and signed up. It wasn’t difficult, but it would have been easier if I’d taken care of this earlier from home. You can Apply for the Aruba ED Card Here.
For airport transit to and from the hotel, your choice is basically to take a taxi (or limo) or rent a car.
There are no Ubers or Lyfts on the island.
We took a taxi to our hotel. The price was about $35 – cash only.
Whether you rent a car depends on what you plan to do during your stay and the length of your stay. The benefit would obviously be the freedom to roam the island, and the ability to travel to restaurants and supermarkets outside of the immediate hotel vicinity. Since it was our first time in Aruba and we were only staying four days, we opted against renting. You can rent a car in advance from home or you can rent at the airport. Another choice that we looked into, is a daily rental. Prices are fairly reasonable if you want to just tour the island for a day. We checked the prices around the hotel (there are plenty of car rental locations near the Palm Beach area or you can check with your hotel concierge). We walked into an Avis location near our hotel and were quoted $45 for a 24 hour rental ($65 including full insurance).
Aruba also has public transportation – Arubus – owned by the government of Aruba, by which you can travel from one end of the island to the other.
Third, Yes, They Speak English
Everyone we met in Aruba speaks fluent English. Many speak Dutch, Spanish and or Papiamento, a Creole language based spoken primarily in the islands of Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles.
Fourth, You Can Drink the Water
Aruba boasts that its water is crystal clear and some of the best and safest water to drink in the world!
Fifth, US Dollar is Accepted Everywhere
Although the official local currency is the Aruban Guilder (AWG), the US dollar was accepted everywhere we went. You can get US Dollars at Banks and ATM machines all over the island. In our experience, credit cards were accepted everywhere we went, except in taxis, where payment is cash only.
Sixth, Activities on Land
In terms of day trips and activities, many people told me they enjoyed ATV tours. You can find a long list of these ATV tours on Viator or you can book them with your hotel concierge or one of the many tourist shops around the island.
Seventh, Water Activities
Similarly, you can book water activities with Viator, with your hotel, at tourist shops or with one of the many surf shacks located on the beach. Whether it is snorkeling, diving, sailing or a sunset cruise, the options are plentiful.
Seventh, Food Glorious Food
We ate at a few restaurants near our hotel on Palm Beach. The area is rather touristy. Frankly, there are so many restaurants that I didn’t know where to go – so I asked around a lot. In my experience, the prices are a little high – most entrees are about $10 more than I’d expect to pay for the same item at home. Here are some of the restaurants I went to or that were recommended to me.
The most recommended restaurants in the Palm Beach area are the restaurants owned by Giannis Group, many of which are located across the street from the Hilton Hotel – including, among others, Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano and Azia Restaurant & Lounge.
Wacky Wahoo’s. When I’m traveling, I prefer local restaurants and cuisine over fancy restaurants – and this clearly fit the bill. Plus, who couldn’t love a restaurant with a name like this? The restaurant was a five minute walk from the hotel zone – it looked like a shack but has really great seafood. If you’re looking for authentic – this might be your place.
Papiamento. Papiamento (which is actually a language spoken in Aruba) is the sort of upscale dreamy restaurant I’d like to visit for the experience. This family-owned restaurant just a short taxi ride from the hotel district is located in a beautiful antique home with seating indoors and outside in a lush garden around a pool. Everyone I spoke to recommended this restaurant. I didn’t get there on this trip – maybe next time.
Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill – When I go to a Caribbean island, I dream of walking barefoot into a super casual bar/restaurant located on a pier where you can hang out and sip drinks during the afternoon or at sunset, have dinner at night and/or hear some local bands play cover tunes. This is exactly what Bugaloe is and I was happy we found it.
Smokey Joe’s. This well-liked BBQ joint is right on the main street. My experience wasn’t a great one. We went there one night and I ordered a drink and a Caesar Salad. The salad was drenched in the dressing so I could barely eat it. I’d probably be willing to give the restaurant another try.
Eighth, Bring Sunscreen!
The sun is strong in Aruba. I wore sunscreen and I was fine. My boyfriend, however, waited too long before he put on sunscreen. He turned into a lobster. Luckily, Aruba is known for Aloe products.
Nine, US Pre Clearance at Aruba Airport
Allow extra time at the airport because Aruba has US pre-clearance for all passengers traveling to the United States. This means that, after going through security and Aruba Passport Control, a passenger will then go through US pre-clearance. Yes, they have Global Entry (Yay!!). Once the passenger has gone through Aruba Passport Control, the passenger picks up any baggage they checked in order to go through US Customs. When cleared, the passenger places their luggage back on a conveyer. In my experience, this all went very smoothly.
Ten, There is a Priority Pass Lounge at the Airport!
Actually there are two Priority Pass Lounges at the Aruba Airport – including one on the US Departure side!
And a bonus point . . . Are you ready?
Eleven, there are no traffic lights on the entire island. None!
More questions? Feel free to ask.
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